The Substance of Higher Education in India

 

Nidhin Shobhana

nidhin s 2Any discussion on caste in Higher Education should include an overview of what constitutes higher education. In other words an overview of its substance.

To begin with, how is higher education defined in India ? As per the Indian Standard Classification of Education, anybody who completes 9 months of formal study after 12 years of schooling, or 3 years of formal study after 10 years of schooling can be called 'higher educated'. In other words, anybody who has spend a minimum of thirteen years of their life in formal education is said to have received higher education. This is a bare minimum definition which becomes more meaningful when we look deeper into the demographic details of Higher Education.

At the present moment, India has 864 Universities, 40026 colleges and 11669 stand alone institutions.

One needs to ask, are all the universities equal to each other? No. They are arranged in a hierarchy, very similar to the graded caste hierarchy. This hierarchy is not a mental structure or a matter of perception. In material terms, these universities are funded and endorsed differently and unequally. They are classified into 'nationally important', 'central', 'state', deemed and open. All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE, Final Report 2016-17) classifies Universities into 11 categories. Out of the 864 universities, only 278 are affliating universities. They affiliate over 40000 colleges.

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Judicial Independence or Sovereignty!

 

Sthabir Khora

sthabir khora 1Recently 4 judges of the collegium in the Supreme Court accused the chief justice of misuse of his discretion. (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/live-updates-unprecedented-press-conference-by-4-senior-sc-judges/articleshow/62470543.cms). In this context, Upendra Baxi, quotes the Austrian jurist Eugene Ehrlich- "The best guarantee of justice lies in the personality of the judge.(http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/when-judges-dissent-supreme-court-crisis-5029057/).

It's not difficult to imagine what he is fending off. It is a bit puzzling when I am told that I am in a problem but cannot intervene to fix it. The key issue is judicial independence as against outside interference. One of the major points of intervention is appointments to the higher judiciary. In that, probably the most important issue is reservation/representation in the judiciary.

Are we interested in independence or impartiality?

Judicial independence cannot be like the independence of a country which means sovereignty of that country. Even sovereignty of a state in this age of globalisation is circumscribed by various international frameworks and realpolitik. Therefore judicial independence can only mean 'independence in its own sphere'. But this type of independence is required not only for the judiciary but for every organ of the state. The executive too requires independence from judicial interference. The doctrine of proportionality applies to all the three branches as well. The three branches are based on the principle of separation of powers. But Max Weber distinguishes between limitations of power and separation of powers. 'Limitation of power exists; where, due to sacred tradition or enactment, a particular imperium is restrained by the rights of its subjects' (1978:652). This means that there might be a zone of discretion within a particular sphere not restrained by separation of powers. The Roster in the court is probably such an instance.

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From Bhima Koregaon to London

 

Saunvedan Aparanti

I am an inevitable product of my history. It shadows me from the battlefields of Bhima Koregaon to the streets of London outside the Indian Embassy. This is where my history meets my destiny. My name is Saunvedan Aparanti. My ancestors were Mahars, shackled under the yoke of the caste system for millennia, not centuries. The 1st of January 1818, is what I call 'the beginning', not because there were no anti-caste revolts before this date but because anti-caste assertion was reified in the Victory Pillar at Bhima Koregaon. I can touch it and trace my fingers over the names of the martyrs and feel it. Reading about a battle in a history book is different from sitting in its precincts and living the assertion in your mind's eye. It is a feeling similar to when I first touched the Taj Mahal. It was merely beautiful until then, but when I touched it, I fell for it.

bk london protest 1

The Battle of Bhima Koregaon itself did not occur in such a distant past to make it history with a capital H in my view. I can easily picture Mahars relishing the thought of finishing off the Peshwas to exact revenge for the humiliation they were subjected to, during the Peshwas' reign. Times were good during the reign of Shivaji Maharaj and Sambhaji Raje who were more benevolent and inclusive. The British merely offered an opportunity for Mahars to settle the score, eye for an eye. 500 of the Company's troops comprising of a large number of Mahars holding off 28,000 of the Peshwa army says a lot about both sides without me boasting about it. The main takeaway for me is the eye for an eye part. You see, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar struck an apocalyptic blow to the Brahminical caste empire from which it will never recover. He destroyed in one lifetime what caste supremacists built over millennia and he did it inter alia through academic rigour and relentless struggle.

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Supreme Court's Man-Maani Baat

 

S. Kumar

PM Narendra Modi started his Mann ki Baat i.e. Straight from the Heart, program in Oct’ 2014. It is often called Mann-Maani Baat i.e. arrogant self-made decision, in Hindi to define it as one-way communication. The term Mann-Maani Baat coined by people applies well to the Mann Ki Baat program.

 

During the program, widely telecasted by Government owned media and private owned live channels including radio channels, PM speaks whatever he wishes to speak. Further, he has absolutely no accountability for any true or false information he conveys during the program. Like in one of the programs, PM Modi said that about Rs 3 Lac crores untaxed cash was revealed during the infamous Demonetization exercise. After a few days, Finance Ministry of the same Government gave completely different figures.

justice karnan sc judges

 

The topic of this is article is that Supreme Court of India has started a similar program and it can be similarly called Man-Maani baat. The Supreme Court of India can be equivalently called Brahmin Court, as it has near 100% Brahmin caste representation, but this topic can be elaborated in a separate article.

 

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Mythifying History: A Response to Anand Teltumbde's Reductive Interpretation of Bhima Koregaon

 

Gaurav Somwanshi

gaurav2I'll save the trouble of rhetoric and get straight to the points. Though I'm posting paras and countering them, I'll keep in mind the context too which the author refers to in his article.

 1. Anand Teltumbde: "But when Babasaheb Ambedkar painted the Battle of Bhima Koregaon as the battle of Mahar soldiers against their caste oppression in Peshwa rule, he was creating a pure myth. As myths are required to build movements, he perhaps saw its necessity then. But after a century, when it solidifies into a quasi-history and tends to push Dalits deeper into an identitarian marshland, it should become a worrisome matter."

 The above para is the second one of the article, and the author's point begins from here. Here, again, two things are not just being twisted but also reversed. First, what could have been seen as the excavation of historical fact from under the debris of brahmin-savarna historians' handiwork and a heroic rescue of a long suppressed history, is instead being made a matter of "creating pure myth, and quasi-history".

To do this gymnastic flip, the author depends heavily upon the very history erasing mechanism of the caste empire whose presence he seems to acknowledge, but fails to comprehend.

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Of Brahminism and Everyday Politics

 

Deepika Parya & Sahil Barhate

The presence of caste discrimination in Indian Universities predates independence. The introduction of National Law Schools was necessitated by the dearth of competent legal professionals in the country. However, inaccessibility to these institutions is not only marked by the so-called 'entrance tests' but also the unjust structures that are replicated herein. This piece comes in the wake of multiple students speaking up about incidents of caste related violence across premier National 'Law' Schools. We have attempted to shed light on some of the issues that we as Dalit students of NLU-Delhi have faced.

I. The liberty of Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi women's assertions

deepika paryaJoining college led me to think of society in a new light. Here, I learned to question injustices. I learned about Privileges and disadvantages owing to one's social identity. My introduction to feminism changed my world-view drastically. Every conversation had to be dissected to address the social issues therein. Unfortunately, even though there is a wide open feminist platform to deliberate upon topics such as sexist songs & sexual harassment, the pervasive liberal brand of feminism has failed to acknowledge the malaise of caste. The activism on campus has been unsuccessful in broaching this issue, leaving a huge hole in the fabric of the social justice it preaches.

I remember my father being proud of me for reasons like my lighter skin tone, language proficiency my convent education granted me, or my relatively higher grades in school. I realised how it was fundamentally dictated by the need to stay clear off caste stereotypes. It is astonishing that factors such as skin complexion and grades become bearers of caste power structures. Lighter skin tone is a trait of the savarna women, primarily. Brahminical patriarchy paints the average Dalit woman as a promiscuous, aggressive woman with foul language who is also inherently dishonest and looks conventionally hideous. These prejudices perhaps come from the fact that Dalit women were forced into Prostitution by Savarna men centuries ago. The savarna male gaze dictates the way women should dress and carry themselves so as to not appear 'unsophisticated' or 'rustic'. Bahujan women have it so deeply internalized that these become the sources of mild pride.

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Social Media and Bahujans: Some Concerns and Reflections

 

Aditi Priya

If we do not struggle
If we do not persist in our struggle
The enemy would finish us with his bayonets
And pointing to our bones he would tell the rest of the world
Look, these are bones of slaves!
Look, these are bones of slaves!!
— A Hindi Couplet

My dear Ambedkarites,

From dawn to dusk, in one form or the other, we are initiating, participating and extending solidarities in various social movements, including the Ambedkarite movement. We wield numerous weapons in challenging the status-quoist Brahminical social order; social media being one of them. Here, I would like to present a few of my observations on social media and how we use this platform.

fb revolution

Social media is bridging gaps and connecting many Ambedkarite activists across the country, which helps us in forming a support group. It won't be an exaggeration if I say that I — like others around me — have managed to gain the confidence to continue my politics in the elite and exclusionary space of Delhi mostly after I got to know about similar struggles of our people through social media. We have also acted together online, even while being miles apart physically, and have shaken the Brahminical agraharas. But the truth is, social media isn't our real battleground.

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Bloody untouchable: Stories of an assertive Ambedkarite Dalit - Part 2

 

Sanjay Patil

swapnil jadhavSo long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you.
~ Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

I was truly humbled by the response my last RTI article elicited. I will not be lying if I say that I had written many articles over the last two odd years - which could have been part 2, 3 ... after my first article, but after writing articles I used to delete them as the feeling of helplessness about things I wrote in the article were too strong to digest.

However, if I stay mum and be a witness to what is happening around me and do not express it - for others (Dalit or non-Dalit) to read I will be doing a great disservice to being an educated Dalit, it will be akin to failing to live up to what Ambedkar wanted educated Dalits to be. Hence, I will write; albeit with a pen name to pre-empt the discrimination I will face for the rest of my life, especially in the professional world. I am well aware the way I was targeted by a few on social media and in general discourse and during one company interview; I might be targeted again.

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Koregaon, Ambedkar and the Grammar of Anarchy

 

Amit Kumar

amit kumarIndian TV news media fully drenched with orgasmic nationalism seems hell bent on demonizing the alleged rioters in the form of large crowds who call themselves Amedkarites, the followers of Ambedkar, on the roads of various cities in Maharashtra especially Mumbai. The genuine question is: "Are the followers of Ambedkar following Ambedkar?" Ambedkar the chief draftsman of Indian Constitution is a mystical figure for the so-called mainstream of Indian citizenry and arouses a deep feeling of ambivalence if not that of abhorrence in those who, paradoxically, happen to enjoy the protection of the Constitution. Ambedkar happens to be one of the most misunderstood leaders of the Indian Freedom Struggle.

Gandhi and Ambedkar are often compared on various counts; however, the use of peaceful means is almost exclusively ascribed to Gandhi and his followers while Ambedkar is very rarely if ever mentioned for his use of non-violence. Let us try to understand what Ambedkar would have thought of the Koregaon incident and his action thereon. But let's first have a very brief introduction of Ambedkar's actions and views on similar issues.

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The Double Dhamaka of being a Brahmin Revolutionary

 

Rajesh Rajamani

Rajesh Rajamani newRecently, when 'Kabali' director Pa Ranjith introduced 'The Casteless Collective', an initiative that attempts to politicize and mainstream 'Gaana' music (considered to be a musical form of the oppressed), he was accused of bringing caste into art. Popular Tamil singer Srinivas from the Iyengar community rubbished the initiative on his social media account and termed it 'pseudo' and 'pointless'. He wanted Pa Ranjith to talk about caste elsewhere and not bring it to music. News 7, a Tamil news channel went on to carry a debate titled "Is Pa Ranjith forcing caste into art?" On the other hand, when another Iyengar TM Krishna initiated the Uroor-Olcott Kuppam Marghazi Vizha in 2015, an effort that took Carnatic music to a fisher-folk village, he was hailed across various quarters for making music transcend caste barriers. (Because, why not?)

Unsurprisingly, caste seems to work this way. Even the privilege to remain casteless is only made available to Savarnas. Which is why in spite of all the half-baked things that TM Krishna says, writes and does, he is going to be thrust on us as a revolutionary. Whenever one remarks something critical about TM Krishna's 'radical' initiatives, it is always met with responses that claim "But hey, he is at least doing something. So we can't completely reject him!" or the even more boring, "Do you know how many Brahmins hate him for the radical things he is doing?" (A big yawn.)

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Bhima-Koregaon is History not a Myth: A Rejoinder to Teltumbde’s Lie

 

Ratnesh Katulkar

ratneshAnand Teltumbde in a recent article claimed that the Dalits' role in the legendary Bhima Koregaon battle is just a myth. But it is promoted well by the Dalits, including Dr Ambedkar. While leveling this charge Teltumbde, however, doesn't present any evidence to support his argument. His approach in this statement was similar to the approach of one biased brahmanic-Marxist Ramvilas Sharma, who in one of his books, 'Gandhi, Ambedkar and Lohia Aur Itihas ki Samasyaein', challenged the existence of the caste system and untouchability in medieval India by saying that if King Sayajirao Gaikwad of Baroda helped Ambedkar in getting his higher studies abroad, how could the caste system and untouchability still exist at that time. Sharma's second argument is 'if it is expected that the Gaikwads of Baroda were themselves Sudras then how could the caste system exist.' Thus based on these two stupid comments he argues, that both the statements together or independently suggest that there was no caste system or untouchability in India, the way it is presented today1.

Any ordinary student of history or a lay Dalit activist could easily understand the bluff and the stupidity of Ramvilas Sharma's above comments but despite this and much other wrong analysis, Sharma is a favorite author of Hindi's renowned publishers. Similar is the case of Teltumbde, who is famous for his biased rhetoric and his illogical comments but is a beloved author of mainstream media. It is even strange that though Teltumbde always opposes reservation for SCs and STs, but the famous journal Economic & Political Weekly reserves a column 'Margin Speak' exclusively for him!

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As I witnessed Bhima-Koregoan

 

Sharda Navale

prachi navaleThe Vijay Sthamb (Victory Pillar) at Bhima Koregaon, is a symbol of pride and self-esteem for Bahujan Samaj. It’s the source of inspiration for many. To pay homage and respect to the ancestors and great martyr soldiers of the Bhima Koregaon Battle and also to participate in ‘Rajya-sthariya Bouddha Sahitya Sammelan’ (State-level Buddha Literature Convention) held at Sanaswadi, other poets and I along with activists were present at Bhima Koregaon for two days namely 31.12.2017 – 01.01.2018

On 01.01.2018, an armed mob violently attacked Bhima Koregaon, Shikrapur, Sanaswadi, Perne and brought these villages to halt. Peaceful and un-armed Bahujan who gathered at Bhima Koregaon, to pay homage, were cowardly attacked by casteists mobs in which many vehicles were damaged, and several people were injured and bleeding. The roads were blocked, and right from morning they forcefully closed shops in order to deprive gathered people of food or water. People from buildings nearby were pelting stones and bottles. Even you must have seen news and videos of the same.

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